How Products Get on the List


The San Francisco Department of the Environment's (SF Environment) Green Purchasing Program develops and maintains SFApproved products as mandated by the Precautionary Purchasing Ordinance. The SF Green Purchasing Priorities List that broadly guides the program's work is based primarily on the needs of City purchasers.


In screening products for inclusion on SFApproved, SF Environment looks for three qualities: performance, impact and cost.

  • Performance: Above all, a product must work as intended. Does it meet performance expectations? Is it durable, so that it does not need frequent replacement? Does it make efficient use of resources?
  • Impact: Does the product have impacts on the environment, worker health, or public health?
  • Cost: Considering all the alternatives - and the full life cycle of the product - is it cost-effective?

SF Environment determines impacts (see our scoresheet), and facilitates conversations among city end users and the city purchasing department to address performance and cost issues.

Required products are products that have met all three goals. These products are included in a citywide contract. Specifically, SF Environment:

  • Conducts further surveys and meetings with City end users on key product performance issues;
  • Facilitates pilot testing (if appropriate);
  • Researches local product availability and cost issues, together with the purchasing department (Office of Contracts Administration);
  • Works with the purchasing department (in most cases) to get discounts in new citywide term contracts on products that meet standards, certifications, or ecolabels;
  • Develops regulations detailing the product specifications; and,
  • Adds the product or service to the SF Approved website.

Suggested products are products that have been reviewed for impacts, but have not been fully evaluated for cost or performance. Specifically, SF Environment does the following:

  • Studies products currently used by the City;
  • Researches and selects the best available standards, ecolabels or specifications for the product category. In some cases, the department conducts its own alternatives analyses;
  • Posts the results on the SF Approved website; and,
  • Begins collecting product reviews from City departments via end user meetings and product reviews.